I’m just another mid-thirties software engineer. But how I got here is what makes me, well, me.
I’ve always liked math. But I spent my life in high school playing music and making hot glass art. I went to college to be a film major, then decided I’d rather watch films than make them, so I decided to study astro-physics, before I realized you could learn all the interesting stuff by watching the Discover Science channel and the rest was physics. After taking some physics classes, I realized physics is all calculus. So I returned to studying math. Then I discovered you could do really cool math stuff by writing some code. So I wrote code.
Meanwhile, I got into a Japanese poet, and discovered most of his work was originally written in Chinese. Outraged by a terrible translation of a beautiful poem, I decided to study Chinese so I could understand the original. And then I realized that the Chinese I was studying was about eight centuries different. But I enjoyed it, so I studied and played Chinese Chess for a semester in Kunming. I loved being there so much I declared that by the end of the following year, I’d live there, doing whatever it took to do so.
And then opportunity fell on my lap: a friend put me in touch with someone looking for an American who could speak some Chinese and understood computers. So, with a handshake, I committed to six months in Hangzhou, China, where I wrote custom ERP software, wrote a lot of SQL, managed the IT of a dozen or so offices, and ate lots of 蛋饼. Once Hangzhou installed bikeshare, six months turned into four years.
Since then, I returned to the states to start a company that failed, built a website that sold subscriptions to notebooks (and subsequently built our competitor’s website), have led a few teams of excellent engineers, wrote a couple of iOS apps, and met countless wonderful people.
And now, I live in Chicago with my wife and daughter, I bike everywhere, run a few times a week, and travel back to China as often as I can.